A Mathematician's Lament -- Letter to the Editor of AMS Notices

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013 - 2:50pm

"Through reading Paul Lockhart's 'A Mathematician's Lament' I have taken away a major lesson that only helped to highlight the importance of the work we did in the classroom every day. That lesson is that "There is nothing as dreamy and poetic, nothing as radical, subversive, and psychedelic, as mathematics" (Lockhart, p. 23) So why are people's work like George Washington, Shakespeare, and Van Gogh easily and understandably celebrated when mathematicians' are not? It is because people are unwilling to take the time to understand." —Spring 2013 Discovering the Art of Mathematics student

A Mathematician's Lament is a short, provocative book critiquing our societal and educational views of mathematics and mathematics education. Required reading in many of our Mathematics for Liberal Arts courses, it evokes strong reactions from students. Many feel cheated, not having had the opportunity to see mathematics as an art despite 12 years of mandatory instruction in the area.

Published in 2009, the book was not reviewed in Notices of the American Mathematical Society until its review by William Schmidt in the April, 2013 issue.

We thought this review fell short in its analysis. A response by Julian Fleron will be appearing in an upcoming issue of the Notices of the American Mathematical Society. Until it is unveiled there, you can have a look at it here.

We encourage you to read this important book, and, in an appropriately inquiry-based way, form, communicate, and act on your own conclusions.

Letter to the Editor of the AMS Notices